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Crowd Turns Out For Holiday Fest
Holiday music, a festive tree, parade entries strung with lights ... there was plenty to look at and enjoy Saturday evening as local residents celebrated 'Christmas on Main' in the downtown area.

Booths opened about 3:30 p.m. and the holiday light parade stepped off at 5:30 p.m., with each entry featuring some type of colorful lighting. Honored as the Grand Marshal was Jim Dimas, who is involved in a number of community activities and is a strong supporter of service clubs and organizations in the area.

He was joined by his grandchildren for the parade, including one that made the trip from San Diego to take part in the event. City Manager Greg Greeson served as emcee for the parade, which featured musical groups, floats, the American Legion colorguard, churches, and more.

Booths featured items including stuffed animals - made on the spot - candles, Dairy Princess Katherine Nissen and alternate Amanda Sailors with agricultural information, Key Club booth with activities for kids, and some local churches and service clubs with food and beverages. There was also a spinning wheel game and s'mores were provided free for those attending to enjoy while sitting around on hay bales near the fire pits, visiting and catching up with friends and neighbors.

Of course, Santa Claus was part of the parade, arriving on a fire engine, and took time to sit on the stage and hear the holiday wishes of a long line of youngsters, braving chilly conditions for a chance to bend his ear.

"It's a wonderful turnout," said Chamber activities coordinator Amanda Swift. "We were concerned about the weather earlier, it was so windy, but it's fine."

Swift said she was happy with the amount of booths set up in the Main Street Park, offering a mix of merchandise and activities.

"The majority of the event is put on by the service clubs, there are only a couple for-profit groups," she said. "We like the size of it."

Chamber President Pat Brown echoed the sentiment.

"What impresses me is that it's Americana at its best," she said. "Small town atmosphere ... all ages are having a good time."

There was Christmas music, provided by Jess Bradley, hay wagon rides around town provided through the Lions Club and a chance to celebrate the season.

"I liked when I was in the parade, throwing candy," said seven-year-old Meadow Naraghi, content later to roast a marshmallow and eat a sticky s'more.

The Haggstrom family, recently moving here from Denair, were all out to take part in the festivities.

"It's wonderful," said dad Brian, holding on to the family dog Izzy. "She likes all the people."

"This is fantastic," agreed wife Judy, warming herself by a fire pit set up in the park.

Escalon High freshmen Stephany Garcia and Amber Dansby wee working at the Key Club booth, helping youngsters with coloring and other activities.

"It's just to help out the community, do something nice," said Garcia.

Dansby said she joined Key Club because her grandmother wanted her to get involved at the high school and she was enjoying working her first activity with the organization.

Handing out plenty of information, Escalon High alumnus and now District Dairy Princess Katherine Nissen was also smiling.

"I've never had so much fun seeing my fellow Escalonians," she said.

With nine-month-old son Luke in tow, Alison Hernandez and husband Andrew brought him to town for his first Christmas.

"To watch the parade, come out and have some hot cocoa on a cold night," Alison said.

Festivities wrapped up in the early evening, with a successful Christmas on Main in the books.

For Grand Marshal Dimas, it was a satisfying night and he was appreciative of the recognition.

"Really, my heart is in the community," he said. "Anything that involves doing things for the community keeps me happy."